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Mormon Church Backtracks on Antidiscrimination Statement

Mormon Church Backtracks on Antidiscrimination Statement

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The church first endorsed statewide LGBT-inclusive legislation, then said its support was limited to a Salt Lake City ordinance.

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The Mormon Church Friday published online, then quickly took down, a statement endorsing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination legislation, replacing it with one limited to supporting a 2009 Salt Lake City ordinance that included religious exemptions.

"The reference to non-discrimination ordinances was meant to reflect the church's support for the 2009 Salt Lake ordinance and is not an announcement of any kind," church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a written statement to Salt Lake City's Deseret News. "The church has been clear that its support of this specific ordinance was due to language that attempted to balance issues of non-discrimination and religious freedom. This clarification has now been made to the page in question. This is a beta site and is not a final product. Additional edits and changes are possible before it reaches final completion."

The statement posted late Friday contained this language, reports The New Civil Rights Movement: "The Church website mormonsandgays.org details sincere outreach by the Church within the gay community, including support in Utah for nondiscrimination protections of employment and housing." Over the weekend it was altered to read, "The Church website mormonsandgays.org details sincere outreach by the Church within the gay community, including support in Salt Lake City in 2009 for nondiscrimination protections of employment and housing."

Statewide protections, though, will be on the legislative agenda in Utah in 2015. State senator Steve Urquhart plans to reintroduce a bill that would ban housing and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, notes Deseret News. The bill got as far as a committee hearing in 2013, and Urquhart introduced it again this year, but it "didn't get a hearing due to concerns it would negatively impact the defense of Utah's gay marriage ban," the paper reports. That ban has now been struck down by federal district and appeals courts, and marriage equality officially became the law of the land in Utah in October.

Towleroad's John Wright has an idea why the Mormon Church may be less amenable to statewide legislation: "It's worth noting that the city nondiscrimination ordinances in Utah, as well as the proposed state legislation, have contained broad exemptions for religious groups," he writes. "It's also worth nothing that there's a major difference between the municipal ordinances -- punishable by fines of up to $1,000, although none has ever been levied -- and a statewide law, which would allow alleged victims of discrimination to file lawsuits."

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.